Morgan Rivers

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What EA projects could grow to become megaprojects, eventually spending $100m per year?

Responding as a member of the ALLFED team.

A network of reliable, long distance shortwave radio systems that do not depend on external sources of electricity and are unable to be disabled by widespread cyber attack, EMP, or most other threats to the global communication infrastructure.

In a wide range of catastrophes, communication systems are a critical vulnerability which, if disrupted, delay societal recovery from the disaster. A highly resilient and reliable system is HAM shortwave radio, which allows reliable, low cost communication to a significant fraction of
the global population. Maintaining key high speed communication
channels during a catastrophe would greatly increase disaster resilience beyond flyer distribution, potentially at relatively little additional cost. A backup shortwave radio communication system would facilitate the timely advice on where to locate clean water sources, identify sensible relocation options, allow improved international cooperation, and allow
coordination about the nature and likely duration of the outage.

We’ve identified HAM shortwave radios as key electronic equipment that is both likely to be highly resilient to global communication disruption on large or small scales, and as relatively easy to distribute. Another interesting use for these radios is distribution to power grid stations
for use to aid blackstart communications after large scale electrical grid collapse.

While several network configurations may serve GCR reduction purposes, our preliminary network design involves around a dozen central stations receiving and broadcasting globally, a network of several hundred two-way NVIS transceiver networks operated by trained personnel, and a few
thousand distributed receiver-only radios. The network would utilize SSB communications to lower power requirements. To cover the entire earth’s population we estimate the total construction and shipping cost at between USD $2 million and $10 million, scaling roughly proportionally with the fraction of global population able to be reached by the network. 

Total costs would therefore reasonably reach into the tens to hundreds of millions for this sort of mega project, depending on the spatial density of the network.